Hannah and Je together

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Seventh Day – Masada and Dead Sea

Map of Westbank and Vicinity

Map of West bank and Vicinity

This is the part of the map hanging on the hotel wall.  The name of the map differs according to where you buy it, from Israeli or Palestinian shop.  It could be Map of Israel, or the map of the West bank and vicinity.

Gerald Halbert Park

Gerald Halbert Park

I also used the tour service from the same company.  Unlike yesterday, we gathered at Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv because the destination is through Jerusalem.  We gathered at Gerald Halbert Park where we can see the east side from Jerusalem.  The farthest line of mountains is the Mountains of Edom where the descendants of Esau lived in the Bible.

Ahava Factory

Ahava Factory

Today’s major destinations are Masada and Dead sea beach.  But before we get to the first destination, we stopped at Ahava factory and visitor centre where they produce skin care products from the muds and minerals of dead sea.  Unlike yesterday, it was quite huge group and we used big tour bus.  I had Amir, the Jewish guy as tour guide and a Muslim Palestinian as driver.  As far as I know, Amir is Arabic name meaning “Prince,” and I wonder if it is strange for a Jewish guy to have Arabic name.

Masada from afar

Masada from afar

Masada is one of the most famous place in Israel because of its tragic history.  After the Jerusalem was captured by the Rome, some people came into the Masada and resisted.  Masada, built by Herod, is cliff all around.  But they were hopeless, and killed themselves, and roman soldiers entered easily.  Masada is truly unbreakable place.  All other mountains in the area is cliff, but the tops are all connected but only Masada is separated and cliff all around.

Model of Masada

Model of Masada

This is the model of Masada, and you can see it is cliff all around.  The most amazing thing is that Herod built amazing town and even his palace on the Masada.  It is crazy difficult just climb there but they moved all the huge stones and jars three times bigger than me.

Masada Cablecar

Masada Cable car

There is a very nice cable cars in Masada from the visitor centre to the top of Masada.  Actually I asked Amir, my tour guide, if I can walk up the Masada.  He said they do not allow people to walk up after 9 in the morning because it is too hot.  He, then, checked the temperature and said “This is over 43 degree, and if you walk up that steep hill for more than forty minutes, you may die.” For Americans, 43 celsius is about 110 fahrenheit.

Snake path from above

Snake path from above

This is the walk path, named Snake path.  Even Josephus mentioned this path.  Believe me, this is the most levelled and widest part of the path.  When I got off the bus, the enormous heat from the ground chalked my breath and the sun rays were so strong that I even felt it was pricking my skin.  I am glad that I did not walk.

Original Wall painting in Masada

Original Wall painting in Masada

When we walk up there, all buildings have black lines.  Above the line is renovated by scholars, but below the black line is original and untouched at all.  The painting on the wall is genuine from the Herod’s era.  How amazing that the painting is so lively preserved!

Herod's Palace on the edge of Masada

Herod’s Palace on the edge of Masada

At the edge of the Masada, Herod built three level’s palace for himself.  This is the second level viewed from the top-level.  Herod, Herod, Herod.  McCormick group may remember that we heard his name every single day no matter where we go.  If not him, Jews and Israel would have had almost nothing because he built almost everything.

Ritual Bath of Masada

Ritual Bath of Masada

Amir the tour guide said that Herod was (or at least tried very hard) more Jewish than Jews, and more roman than Romans.  This is one of the more Jewish thing for him.  He built ritual bath and baptismal bath upon the high Masada.  And all the arts in Masada is just pattern.  There is not even single image of anything such as animal or human.

Hot Bath on Masada

Hot Bath on Masada

This is another proof that he was more roman than Romans.  He equipped Masada with cold and hot bath.  And this is the hot bath.  The bottom part is where they make fire and burn stuff which would heat up the floor, and the floor eventually heat up the water.  The smoke escapes through the channel, and out of the root side, so the people in the bath place would not small anything.

Small Cistern on Masada

Small Cistern on Masada

This is desert area, where there is almost no rain.  I mean, almost.  The guide said it rains two or three times a year, sometimes once in three years.  To survive in the place like Masada, they have to gather and store the rain water, even a drop.  This is a cistern upon Masada, and it is small one.

Model for Rain water collecting system of Masada

Model for Rain water collecting system of Masada

Herod built another system, way bigger system to collect the rain water from all neighbouring areas, using the gravity, he stored the water under Masada.  Because of the great water system, the Jews protesting had enough water while Roman soldiers had trouble because of no water – they got the water from Ein Gedi which is very far from here.  Well, I have to say that it is very un-roman.

Synagogue on Masada

Synagogue on Masada

To be more Jewish, Herod also built a synagogue upon Masada.  This is the synagogue, and it also has scribe’s room.  I saw another scribe was working here, as in Qazrin, writing and selling blessings to the tourists.

Dovecot on Masada

Dovecot on Masada

What did they eat?  They found lots of dates pits (they even planted the pits and it became the actual date tree – revived in 2,000 years)  They also had a dovecot where they kept and grew doves, which is Kosher meat with right amount of portion.  Cow or bull is very hard to raise in Masada, and even bringing them up would have been impossible.  The cow provides too much meat, but the dove has right amount of meat to be a meal for couple of people.  This is the dovecot on Masada.  How can’t I say Herod the great!

View from Masada Restaurant

View from Masada Restaurant

This is the view from the Masada restaurant through the window.  Oh how beautiful the dead sea is!

Reading on the Dead Sea

Reading on the Dead Sea

Then we went to the Dead Sea Mineral Beach.  It is my second time to be in the dead sea.  It is always fun to be there and play reading which I cannot actually read (it was Arabic paper).

Dead Sea skincare

Dead Sea skin care

This time, I covered myself with the dead sea mud.  Even now, late at night, my skin is very soft and smooth, and I love my skin so much!!

Hot Mineral Spa of Dead Sea

Hot Mineral Spa of Dead Sea

They also have “free” hot spa with the dead sea water.  As you may know, dead sea water is ten times saltier than the sea water.  If you taste it, you will not taste saltiness, but the extreme bitterness.  You can taste a little bit, but you should not drink it.  The guide said if you drink a cup, you will die.

Rocket trail on the sky

Rocket trail on the sky

Then we came back to Jerusalem and I got off at David Citadel Hotel.  It was beautiful day.  Look at the picture above.  How beautiful it is!  I cross the road and I looked up the sky at Mamilla Street and King Solomon Street, which is the entrance to the Mamilla mall, and which is five minutes walk from my hotel.  There was a rocket flying and coming down, but it was shot down in the sky.  My crappy camera was not fast enough to take the photo of it, but it just got the trace of it.  Does it look like a cloud or aircraft trace?  It is actually the rocket trace from Hamas that reached Jerusalem!  I circled the rocket trace with black pencil so that it can be easily spotted.

The CNN news says that the number of casualties of Palestinians and Israelis are 81:0.  This is just one of the many big news here.  The news talks more about US immigration, US-Germany spy, and massive shooting in Texas.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Israel Trip Sixteenth Day: Mount Carmel, Caesarea

Though we have one more day, today is actually the last day in this trip because we will leave the hotel for airport at 1:30 AM.

St. Gabriel Hotel Church at Nazareth

St. Gabriel Hotel Church at Nazareth

Before we left the St. Gabriel Hotel in Nazareth, I went to the Hotel Church. It was not that huge one, but beautiful one. It is not used currently.

Elijah on Mount Carmel

Elijah on Mount Carmel

Then we went to Mount Carmel. Mount Carmel is not just one peak of mountain but a whole range, and we went to the highest point where the Carmelites are living. This is the prophet Elijah’s statue in the yard.

View from the Mount Carmel

View from the Mount Carmel

This is the view from the top of the Mount Carmel eastward. If Elijah competed with other prophets of Baal on this spot, he would have dragged them down to the valley on the picture above (according to Old Testament professor Ted Hiebert). This is such a beautiful view. On clear day, we can see the Mediterranean sea, Nazareth, and whole area.

Caesarea

Caesarea

Then we went to that famous Caesarea. Caesarea is built by Herod the great, named after, of course, Caesar. Herod wanted non-Jewish totally Roman city.

Theatre

Theatre

This is the theatre. You can see the two levels of seats in the restored theatre, but originally there were three levels, containing total five thousand people. It also has many exits for emergency. And they filled the lower part of the stage and floated small boat for the marine scene.

Original Seat

Original Seat

In the picture above, you can easily identify which is original and which is restored seat.

Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate

Caesarea is one of the important sites for Christians including Peter’s visiting Cornelius. And there is one more thing for Christians; Pontius Pilate, the name which Christians cannot forget. This is the replica to show what was found. Here we can identify “Tiberius,” the name of the emperor. “…tius Pilatus,” part of the name of Pontius Pilate, and “Praefectus Iudaeae” which means Prefect of Judea.

Carsarean Harbour

Caesarean Harbour

This is the ruin of the ancient harbour.

Hippodrome of Herod

Hippodrome of Herod

There was one more entertaining thing beside the theatre – Hippodrome, the Formula one in the ancient days. This is very impressive to me because of the movie BenHur.

View from the restaurant

View from the restaurant

Then we had lunch all together at the Port Cafe at Caesarea, and this is the view from the restaurant.

Aquaduct to Carsarea

aqueduct to Caesarea

Caesarea was built by Herod, but August borrowed him architects which means this city was not only Roman culture, but also Roman technology. When we say Romans, we always think about two things: Roman Road and Roman aqueduct. Consequently Caesarea also had two aqueducts. And this is one of them.

Depth of the Aquaduct

Depth of the aqueduct

The aqueduct was connecting the city from the spring in the mount Carmel. And the depth of the aqueduct reaches my waist and if we consider the water was constantly flowing, the amount of water was huge.

Beach boy

Beach boy

And I enjoyed the beach of Mediterranean sea. Sadly after I came out of the beach, I cut one of my toes on the asphalt.

Seasons Hotel Lobby

Seasons Hotel Lobby

Then we drove to the Seasons Hotel in Netanya. This hotel is very good. I stayed at crappy hotel in Nazareth for many days, and I cannot even stay one full night at this awesome hotel!

View from the room

View from the room

This is the view from my hotel room.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Israel Trip Thirteenth Day: Hazor, Dan, Banyas, Tabgha

Today was field study day without any speaker.

Wall of Hazor

Wall of Hazor

We went to Hazor first. It is one of the strong fortress which Solomon built to strengthen his kingdom. Just as other ancient sites, it is also built upon older town, and it has twenty different layers. Among the layers, scholars found total black layer which means it was burnt totally. Not just a small fire, but total destruction. And the date matches with Joshua’s invasion.

Burnt and Broken Stones

Burnt and Broken Stones

These are some of the remained burnt stones. They are very strong stone, but in the great fire, they broke like this.

Biggest Source of Jordan

Biggest Source of Jordan

Then we went to ancient location of the tribe of Dan. And we found the beginning of Jordan river. The sound was so good. This is from Ezekiel 43.2: “and his voice was like a noise of many waters.”

Dan Trail

Dan Trail

Then we had nice hiking through and along the trees and forest.

Altar at Dan

Altar at Dan

We found the altar and worshipping place built by Ahab, so that people in northern kingdom would not go to Jerusalem to worship God. The iron bars marks the actual size of original altar. It is so huge. And behind the altar, we can see the elevated site where Korean people from Hanaro Church sat. It is like Ziggurat and it is typical to be with the altar.

Israeli Gate

Israeli Gate

Then we found a Israelite city gate, probably built by a Northern king.

Canaanite Gate

Canaanite Gate

If we go around the Israelite gate, archaeologists found and dug Canaanite gate. It is at least 1,000 years older than the previous Israelite gate. And possibly Abraham went through that gate.

Mount Hermon

Mount Hermon

This is mount Hermon. It is Psalm 133.3: “As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” And many people believes that this mountain is where Jesus transfigured himself.

Zeus Temple

Zeus Temple

Then we went to Banyas. Its name in Jesus time was Caesarea Philippi, and is under the Mount Hermon (so-called Mount Transfiguration) in Golan Height. This is the temple of Zeus. There are many temples for Pan, sacred goat, and August of course. It is built by Herod. Wherever we go, we hear the name of Herod at least once a day.

Cave in Banyas

Cave in Banyas

This is a cave there. And probably somewhere around here Jesus asked his disciples who does the people say he is. It is from Matthew 16.13: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”

Roman Bridge

Roman Bridge

People began to go back to the bus, and I ran farther with D’Angelo and Eileen as far as we can run. We saw more of the Herod’s structure, and saw this roman bridge.

K-Bab, Original Taste of Galilee

K-Bab, Original Taste of Galilee

We stopped at a highway rest area and went in K Bab, “Original Taste of Galilee,” to find out it is one of the best restaurants we been to so far.

Heptapegon Church

Church of Multiplication

Then we went to the church of the multiplication where Jesus blessed two fish and five loaves to feed five thousand men (without counting women and kids). The church was built upon a rock which you can see under the table. And it is believed that Jesus put the loaves and fish on the rock to bless.

Floor Pattern

Floor Pattern

This is ancient church built upon another church. And we found some so beautiful floor mosaics even from 4th century. The courtyard was one of the best place to enjoy the peace and meditate. They have an olive tree in the centre, and running water with beautiful sound and lots of Koi fish. Koi is Japanese word for the fish, and at the same time, it means love, too.

Papyrus

Papyrus

We found the famous Papyrus in the courtyard too, where the word ‘paper’ came from.

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And my favourite – flowers.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Israel Trip Twelfth Day: Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, and Chorazain

Today was certainly New Testament Day, and especially Gospel Day.

Nazareth View from Saint Gabriel Hotel

Nazareth View from Saint Gabriel Hotel

This is the Nazareth view from the hotel. It is quite foggy and could not see far down there.

Cana

Cana

While we were driving down, our local guide identified us Cana where Jesus performed his very first miracle. He said wine is very precious gift because it means one years labour and huge portion of wealth. And if you do not provide enough wine in such events like wedding, it is permanent disgrace to the family. And how much it would be gossiped in that small town. Jesus literally saved the family. And George said that Jesus was not sitting with his mother in the feast because that is the Jewish tradition and culture that time. Even now they are separated in the synagogues.

Church of Beatitudes

Church of Beatitudes

First destination was the Church of Beatitude where Jesus preached the famous sermon on the mountain. On Matthew text, Jesus was on the mountain top, and it begins with Jesus sitting down. In Jewish tradition, rabbi stands normally, but when he sits, that means he is serious about his on-coming speech. So when Jesus sat down, everyone must have been quiet. And a beautiful church was built upon the rock which is believed that Jesus preached on.

Here is Matthew 5.3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Between the two Hieberts

Between the two Hieberts

They are my favourite professors at McCormick and they are husband and wife. Such a beautiful couple.

With George, our local guide

With George, our local guide

Then we went to Galilee and had worship on the “Jesus” boat. The service was good. We read Psalm 150 in different languages of English, Korean, Spanish, Hebrew and Arabic. Arabic was read by our local guide George. He is the best guide I’ve ever met.

2000 Years old boat

2000 Years old boat

This boat was found under the mud in the Sea of Galilee and scientist concluded this boat is about 2,000 years old. At Jesus days, there must have been so many boats on Galilee, and this is one of them. There is also possibility that Jesus was on this boat at least once. And the boat is made out of twelve different trees.

Migdal

Migdal

This is archaeological site of ancient Migdal. And there is huge construction is going on to build a Magdalene Centre and resort. Our famous Mary Magdalene means Mary from the town of Migdal. Galilee area is the core place of Jesus ministry. We had lunch here.

Herod's Massacre

Herod’s Massacre

I forgot the name of this mountain. Our local guide said that there was rebel against Herod among Jewish people around here, and they fled to that mountain. And Herod commanded his solders to push and throw all the rebels off the cliff. And the people in Galilee saw that.

Church of Peter's Primacy

Church of Peter’s Primacy

And we went to Peter’s Primacy Church. Peter and his fellow disciples came here and were fishing after the death of Jesus. And Jesus came here and prepared the fire and meal. Then John found the Lord and told Peter. After that Jesus asked Peter if he loves him three times. This is the Church built to commemorate it.

This is John 21.15: “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.”

One of seven springs

One of seven springs

This area is known as Heptapegon which means seven springs in Greek. We did not have time to go for it, but I ran and found one of the seven springs.

Olive grinder

Olive grinder

Then we went to ancient Chorazin, one of the three towns Jesus cursed. This is small town, and the people here must have been more conservative, and relatively closed-minded stuck in tradition and religion. That is why Jesus came here and worked so hard to change them. This is ancient olive oil press.

Peter or Peter's mother-in-law's house

Peter or Peter’s mother-in-law’s house

This is Peter’s house in the town of Capernaum. Many of the holy places are just to commemorate and/or the actual locations are in dispute. But this one is 100% legitimate, without any dispute. That means Jesus actually ate, slept, rested, preached, healed and talked there. It is most probable that Jesus walked through the whole town. And there is Jewish synagogue during Jesus time. Jesus went, read scripture and taught there.

Stairway to the roof

Stairway to the roof

This is the house next to Peter’s and you can see the stairway to the roof. In Gospel, good friends carried their paralysed friend to the roof and lowered him down. This is how. And the roof is usually covered with just leaves and straws woods. So it is easy to open.

Sunset in Capernaum

Sunset in Capernaum

This is beautiful sunset. And my crude camera cannot contain the beauty of it.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Israel Trip Eleventh Day: Ramallah, Shechem, and Samaria

Today we moved from Bethlehem to Nazareth.

Israel Checkpoint

Israel Checkpoint

We had to go through the checkpoint because we were going out into Palestinian area. These checkpoints are horrible. But the worst is yet to come. We went to Ramallah to meet Mrs. Jean Zaru. Ramallah is founded by Christians, and still Christians are dominant. And it is rule that the mayor must be Christians from the old days. Ramallah also has many industrial and commercial businesses. Ramallah also works as the de facto capital of Palestine. It is not one of the tourist attraction, so people there gave us very curious eyes. Ram means high place and Allah is God. So Ramallah is Divine Heights.

Jean Zaru

Jean Zaru

Mrs. Jean Zaru is a Quaker. She is very active for the human rights of Palestinians, and also for the Palestinian women. In that way, she is kind of unique. People we met so far work for the general Palestinian, none for the specifically women. But as we all know, women tend to be weaker in many ways including physically and sexually. Consequently if women are exposed to same level of violence as men, they are way more vulnerable. And that is way we need to protect and help them more. Some people believe providing numerically same thing is fair, but I do not. Providing different things so that everybody can live equally is fair and that is my social justice. I would like to write about it later.

Land of Gibeon

Land of Gibeon

When we passed by on the bus, our local guide George identified us many different places. This one is land of Gibeon. It comes in Joshua 9. The people here deceived Joshua as if they were from the land of far far away.

Bethel

Bethel

This is Bethel. Bethel means house of God, and the story comes in Genesis when Jacob fled from his brother, he slept here and saw a ladder or stairway reaching to the heaven and the angels up and down.

Shiloh

Shiloh

This is Shiloh where Samuel stayed and ordained two first kings; Saul and David. And most importantly this is where the ark of covenant stayed. Shiloh means ‘his’ in Hebrew, and was dedicated place to God.

Mount Blessing and Cursing

Mount Blessing and Cursing

This is two mountains of Blessing (on the left) and Cursing (on the right) which Joshua summoned and arrayed people there and asked them to choose which God they would serve. This is in the land of Shechem. Ancient or Biblical Shechem is now called Nablus. Romans built this city at A.D. 70 after they conquered Jerusalem and named it Neopolice, new city. And the name became Nablus.

Jacobs Well Church

Jacobs Well Church

In the place where the Jacob’s well is, there is a Greek Orthodox Church and is so beautiful.

Jacob's Well

Jacob’s Well

Under the Church, we found the Jacob’s well. And just in case you may not know, the photo-shooting is forbidden. And again, our McCormick group got special permit again. I think God is really with us. I drew some water myself and tasted. It was good and I was amazed the well is functioning well even after 4,000 years of time. As you may know this is the well that Jesus met a Samaritan woman and talked.

Joseph's Tomb

Joseph’s Tomb

Then we went to Joseph’s tomb. There is no archaeological evidence on this as usual for holy places. But it is said by tradition. And the tomb itself is covered with nice stone, and nobody knows what is in there. The stone is supposedly built by Muslims because its direction is toward Mecca.

Town Kids

Town Kids in Samaria

Then we drove to Samaria, the capital city of Northern Kingdom of Israel. The original capital was another place, but the famous evil king Omri moved the capital to Samaria, and Ahab also reigned here. Our group had lunch there but I skipped the lunch and walked around the village. And I sat there and thought watching the mountains around: Some place are identified and marked as holy, and some not. Why and what makes the difference? The holy rock does not made up of some holy molecule. I think that is holy because someone did some holy action. We people makes some place holy or evil. Our action and our deed is most important thing.

Roman Basilica

Roman Basilica

Herod the great built a roman city in Samaria and named it sebaste – August in Greek. This is roman style Basilica where people gathers and do some business.

Theatre built by Herod

Theatre built by Herod

This is theatre. And there is ancient horse racing track built again by Herod (not in this photo). The track is now just a flat field.

John the Baptist Church

John the Baptist Church

By tradition, it is believed that John the Baptist’s head is buried here, and crusaders built a Church for him.

Palace of Omri and Ahab

Palace of Omri and Ahab

This is part of the Palace where the evil kings of Omri and Ahab lived.

View from the Samaria Top

View from the Samaria Top

We went to the top of Samaria so that we can have some nice view. According to a boy from the village, we can even see the Mediterranean sea on clear days. In biblical times, all and every important place is always the highest point in the whole area.

August Temple

August Temple

This is the August temple which Herod built to flatter August, the roman emperor. August is a god, and a son of god (which is Caesar).

Where Jesus met ten lepers

Where Jesus met ten lepers

After the Samaria, we moved to Nazareth. And at some point, our local guide said that we are running on the same road where Jesus met ten lepers.

Traffic Jam caused by Israeli checkpoint

Traffic Jam caused by Israeli checkpoint

Until now we were in the West Bank, and Nazareth is in Israeli land. And there is a checkpoint (we may say it border). And it was horrible experience waiting and stuck in the traffic. And when we got there finally, three soldiers with machine guns came up on the bus. They asked our local guide and Ted many questions in separate place. And they also checked everybody’s passport with actual face. They were not that kind, but I believe it was their maximum kindness. They would act way more horribly to Palestinians. I am glad that I experienced this at least once and I cannot imagine the lives of Palestinians who go through this everyday and even twice a day.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Israel Trip Ninth Day: Hebron

Today was kind of lecture day. We had three speakers in a day: one from religious Jewish, one from Christian group, and another from Muslim Imam.

View of Bethlehem from the Hotel

View of Bethlehem from the Hotel

When I’ve got up in the morning, I went out to the balcony and took this picture – the Bethlehem from the hotel.

Machbelah Cave(?)

Machbelah Cave(?)

And we went to Machbelah in Hebron. Machbelah is the burial cave originally Abraham bought for his wife Sarah. All the most important three generations of Patriarchs with their wives are buried here (by tradition). The only exception is Rachael as you know from the Bible.

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Machbelah of Herodian and after era

This tomb building is built by Herod. Even though Herod is cruel and did many bad things, there are so many things he left. The stone are recognised by its distinctive frame pattern. The upper part is built by Mamluk.

Machbelah Mosque

Machbelah Mosque

This site is fourth most holy place for Muslims, and before Israeli government came, it was of course Muslim’s. When Israeli army came, they divided it into two sections; one for Muslim, and the other for Jewish. This is muslim side mosque.

Machbelah Mosque Ceiling

Machbelah Mosque Ceiling

Just like other mosques, this one is so beautiful too. About the division, Abraham and Sarah are shared by both sides. They both can see it only though the caged windows. Muslims have Isaac and his wife Rebecca. Jews have Jacob and his wife Leah. Jews got what really matters to them because Jacob is the top common ancestor and is exclusive to them. But for the Muslims, Isaac is not the most important person, but Ishmael.

Prayer towards Mecca

Prayer towards Mecca

As I already wrote in previous posting, you will know where is the direction towards mecca in any mosque.

Sarah's tomb

Sarah’s tomb

When you go into the muslim side of the Machbelah, the very first you would see is Sarah.

Rebecca’s tomb

Rebecca’s tomb

Then inside the mosque, you can see the Rebecca next.

Isaac's tomb

Isaac’s tomb

Isaac is by Rebecca but little bit further.

Abraham's tomb

Abraham’s tomb

If you turn around, then you can see the Abraham.

In front of the Machbelah

In front of the Machbelah

We came out of the muslim side, and some of us went into the Jewish section. We must have gone without our local guide because even though he is Christian, the Israeli soldiers did not let him through. It is very stupid. They know he is law-abiding good citizen and just a tour guide. As you can see in the picture, Hebron and around the Machbelah area is very tensed and so many soldiers and military vehicles are always circling around.

Leah's tomb

Leah’s tomb

In the Jewish section, there is partition and writing “Women” in hebrew. The closer side which is right is Abraham and Sarah. The farther side which is the room on the left is their grandson. When you stepped into the room, Leah is on the right, and Jacob is on the left.

Jacob's tomb

Jacob’s tomb

There is no English signs at all either muslim or Jewish side. In the muslim section, local guide read us the Arabic. In the Jewish side, I was able to recognise the Hebrew names.

Christian Peacemaker Team

Christian Peacemaker Team

Then we went to the Christian Peacemaker Team whose office is in old town Hebron. They have a lot of difficulties working for the persecuted Palestinians, and even one of them were killed. But they still standing on their ground and working, sacrificing for others.

View of Hebron

View of Hebron

This is the Hebron view from the Christian Peacemaker Team office.

Kia Hebron

Kia Hebron

In Bethlehem, I saw Hyundai. And in Hebron, I saw Kia – another Korean auto maker.

Glass Factory

Glass Factory

Then we went to famous Glass Factory. Two were working on each side of the furnace. They presented us great show while they were making glass vases. It is amazing and when they do it, it looks so simple.

Horse as transportation

Horse as transportation

Do you see the horse? It is not for tourists, nor fun. They use it as mean of transportation. I’ve seen some people use horse or donkey as mean of transportation only in Palestinian area. What does this mean?

Tourist Police Bike

Tourist Police Bike

Downtown Hebron is crazy place with tons of cars, buses, trucks and horses too. I’ve never known that there is such thing like Tourist Police. But the officer came to us and guided the bus, sometimes stopping other traffic. How nice to us, the tourists.

Sheep neck

Sheep neck

We went to a very nice restaurant in Hebron whose name is ‘Hebron Restaurant.’ I ordered sheep neck. It was not bad, but ao tender and mild. The meat just melted as soon as my tongue touched it. Speaking of tongue, I ate beef tongue for dinner.

Jewish Settler Speaking

Jewish Settler Speaking

Then we went to nearby synagogue and listened to a religious Jewish settler in Hebron. He said many things, but I guess it was not that impressive to McCormick group. One of the things he said is that Israeli government built hospitals, schools for Palestinians and many of them are thankful for that. When he said that, I was confused if he is Japanese speaking to Koreans under Japanese occupation.

Imam Maher Assaf

Imam Maher Assaf

At the evening, we invited Imam Maher Assaf. Imam is a title for Muslim religious leader. Our local guide sitting next to him translated Arabic into English. He is liberal muslim, and most of the muslim does not think like him. But he is quite interesting figure to me.

Palestine Traditional Drink

Palestine Traditional Drink

At the evening session, our local guide George was with us and he introduced us Palestinian traditional (very strong alcoholic) drink. I forgot the name, but we mixed it with water and put some ice. Of course I did not drink it.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Israel Trip Third Day: Jerusalem Old City

The guesthouse is in Palestinian neighbourhood where Arabic is commonly spoken. And it is obviously noticeable for the signs too.

Signs in Arabic

Signs in Arabic

From the guest house, we walked to the Jerusalem Old City through Damascus Gate.

Damascus Gate - one of the major access to Old City Jerusalem

Damascus Gate – one of the major access to Old City Jerusalem

This gate is called in Arabic as Bab Al-Amud which means Pillar Gate. There used to be two pillars by Hadrian and people still used that name even though the pillar is not there for more than thousand years. But you can see the mark where the pillars were in the Old City right after the gate.

Pillar Mark

Pillar Mark

We walked straight to the Western Wall, namely Wailing Wall. It shows a few different era’s construction with the Herodian wall at the bottom. And we went to Western Wall Heritage Centre where we saw some of the historical and architectural information in visual way.

Temple Mount and Temple model

Temple Mount and Temple model

Herod’s temple is much more bigger than the previous ones even way bigger than that of Solomon. Because the land was not level, Herod made the south side much higher to make the temple mount level, and both corner on the south side is called Pinnacle and the horn was blown for many reasons. At the north end, Herod used the natural bed rock as part of the temple mount.

Herod's Frame

Herod’s Frame

This pattern is Herod’s distinctive frame pattern. If you see the picture below, that is just little part of the one rock. They are all huge and giant. The average weight of those stones is 5 ton.

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Huge Stone

As we all know, this glorious Herod’s temple was destroyed by Romans A.D. 70, and some of the destroyed parts are still preserved:

Destruction of the Temple by Romans

Destruction of the Temple by Romans

We were walking under the centre ramp (see the temple model above), and we came out to the open field at Herod’s time but it is still covered because the houses were built after that over those areas. And we met two pillars by Herod.

Herodian Pillar

Herodian Pillar

And on the floor of the same level with the pillar, there are stone-pavement from the same time. In other words, Jesus may walked on those stones.

Pavement from the Jesus' contemporary.

Pavement from the Jesus’ contemporary

And then we kept walking through the water channel/tunnel and to a water basin.

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This was built at Hasmonian Dynasty which means it is even before Romans came to Israel. This water tank was used for more than thousands of years. One thing is that nobody knows where the water comes from and how it collects waters.

St. Anne's Chapel

St. Anne’s Chapel

We went to St. Anne’s Chapel by the White Fathers. White fathers is the missionary group and the father in charge of this site is from Canada. More than 80% of the members are from Africa, so the white is colour of the robe not the skin. Once they tried to rename, but almost all the black members voted against it.

This chapel has amazing acoustic design.  A few of the McCormick group sang ‘Amazing Grace,’ and it echoed like a band of angels was singing together.

Birthplace of Mary

Birthplace of Mary

St. Anne’s Chapel is dedicated to St. Anne, the mother of Mary. So she is grandmother of Jesus. Catholics believe that mother Mary was born here while Anne was living.

Crusader's Chapel

Crusader’s Chapel

Next to the St. Anne’s chapel, there is huge ruin. It is the ruin of many different things – Hadrian’s pagan temple, Byzantine, Crusaders … You can see the crusader’s cross on the bottom of the pillar.

Pool of Bethesda

Pool of Bethesda

And the ruin also has a pool named Bethesda, where Jesus is believed that he healed the sick on Sabbath day.

Via Dolorosa

Via Dolorosa

Now, it is time to talk about the Via Dolorosa, the most famous Christian pilgrimage.

Church of Condemnation

Church of Condemnation

The Church of Condemnation is at the original place (as believed) where Pontius Pilate and his army stayed, namely Antonia Fortress.

Game board

Game board

On the floor, there is a mark – the play of the soldiers. According to the guide, the mark was drawn around Jesus’ contemporary.

Church of Flagellation

Church of Flagellation

It is believed that Jesus was whipped at the Church of Flagellation. And you can see the patterns of nails, whips. Above the gate, you may identify the thorns.

Ecce Homo Church

Ecce Homo Church

Ecce Homo means “Behold this man,” which Pontius Pilate said to the people. There is huge arch in and out side of the church. But the scholars believe now that the arch was built at Hadrian after Jesus.

Jesus fell first time

Jesus fell first time

Via Dolorosa identifies three locations that Jesus fell, and this is the first one.

Jesus met mother

Jesus met mother

Right next to the first falling location, this point is believed that Jesus met His mother Mary.

Simon of Cyrene

Simon of Cyrene

This place is believed that Simon of Cyrene was forced by the Roman soldiers to carry the cross of Jesus. There are a few more scenes in the Via Dolorosa such as Jesus meeting pious women. Via Dolorosa may correct but may not correct since different churches claim different spots, and different scholars says different things. We do not know any thing for sure. But what is important is not to identify historical accurate locations but to feel it and add it to our faith.

Holy Sepulchre

Holy Sepulchre

After that, we went to the Holy Sepulchre though the Coptic Church. In  the Holy Sepulchre, there was no line and our guide said it was miracle. Only two or three can fit in, and I went in with another lady, and she cried a lot over the casket. I just wonder if I had to tell her that the casket is empty and Jesus is alive.

The Holy Sepulchre is so-called the holiest place for Christians. And several different churches owns different parts of it. There are serious dispute between them, so two Muslim families open it in the morning and close it in the evening. What a shame.

Adam's Tomb

Adam’s Tomb

Some Church says that Adam is buried here. It is very important to their theology. The rock over the glasses is the rock of Calvary.

Broken Stone

Broken Stone

The rock seen over the window is Rock of Calvary. It is broken into two. Because when Jesus died, there was earthquake, and the rock was broken into two.

Calvary Rock

Calvary Rock

This is actually on the Calvary. Still you can see the huge crack. There are a few more things to see including Anointing Rock. We went out to the Jewish neighbourhood.

Manora

Manora

This giant manora is not the only one telling you that you are in Jewish quarter. So many males are wearing black hats and dressed like Jewish.

Golden Dome

Golden Dome

That golden dome, so called Dome of Rock, is the most famous thing in Jerusalem. And you can see the western wall under it. Tonight is the beginning of Sabbath, and many Jewish people came to pray here.

Western Wall

Western Wall

This is very sentimental place for all Jewish. The women are not allowed to pray with men. They have their own section. And all men must cover their head. The wall is continued inside to the left side when you face it. And there is a library with all Hebrew pray books.

Skull rock

Skull rock

Then we went to Garden Tomb. It is based on the bible (of course) with the name of Golgotha whose meaning is skull. And the rock is very similar to the skull shape (the mouth piece is hidden by the reconstruction).

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The first and third picture is the entrance of the tomb and the middle one is inside of it. For the last picture, you can see the rail for the rock to roll which covers the tomb. Some scholars think the Holy Sepulchre is where Jesus was crucified, others think Garden tomb is the place. Again, we do not know for sure. But I do know that the tomb is empty and Jesus is alive.

Segregation

Segregation

This is the separation of Jerusalem. One city, one Jerusalem but one side is Jewish part, the other is West Bank, the occupied land. Jerusalem means peace. When can we really have true peace in Jerusalem?

We went to Sabeel, and listened to Cedar, one of the founding member of Sabeel. It was eye opening. I want to write about it later in more detail. If I do not go to bed right now, I may die.

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